|Year of Birth:||1929|
|Year of Death:||2004|
Nicolai Ghiaurov (or Nikolai Gjaurov, Nikolay Gyaurov, Bulgarian: Николай Гяуров) (September 13, 1929 – June 2, 2004) was a Bulgarian opera singer and one of the most famous basses of the postwar period. He was admired for his powerful, sumptuous voice, and was particularly associated with roles of Mussorgsky and Verdi. Ghiaurov married the Bulgarian pianist Zlatina Mishakova in 1956 and Italian soprano Mirella Freni in 1978, and the two singers frequently performed together. They lived in Modena until Ghiaurov's death in 2004 of a heart attack.
Ghiaurov was born in the small mountain town of Velingrad in southern Bulgaria. As a child, he learned to play the violin, piano and clarinet. He began his musical studies at the Bulgarian State Conservatory in 1949 under Prof. Hristo Brambarov. From 1950 until 1955, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory.
Ghiaurov's career was launched in 1955, when he won the Grand Prix at the International Vocal Competition in Paris and the First Prize and a gold medal at the Fifth World Youth Festival in Prague. Ghiaurov made his operatic debut in 1955 as Don Basilio in Rossini's The Barber of Seville in Sofia. He made his Italian operatic debut in 1957 in Teatro Comunale Bologna, before starting an international career with his rendition of Varlaam in the opera Boris Godunov at La Scala in 1959. 1962 marked Ghiaurov's Covent Garden debut as Padre Guardiano in Verdi's La forza del destino as well as his first appearance in Salzburg in Verdi's Requiem, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.